05/14/2011 2:12PM

Presque Isle begins 100-day meet with Inaugural Stakes


Presque Isle Downs near Erie, Pa., a racino with more than 2,000 slot machines and 48 table games, will begin a 100-day meet Tuesday that runs through Oct. 1.

The biggest change to the racing schedule is that the track’s signature event, the Presque Isle Masters, has been upgraded to a Grade 2 from a Grade 3. The $400,000 Masters, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, will be run over the Tapeta surface on Sept, 10.

Business has been good at the casino. Purses will be up approximately 10 percent this meet and average just under $188,000 a card. Purses at Presque Isle are fueled by slot machine revenue, but not by the table games.

Another noticeable change for the track’s fourth season is that Saturday post time has been moved up 2 1/2 hours to 3 p.m. Eastern, The main reason for the change is to give people the opportunity to use the new picnic area, according to Debbie Howells, director of racing at Presque Isle Downs.

“We built a beautiful picnic area on the north end of the grandstand and figured families want to picnic during the day,” she said. “We felt it was a good way to get the people with families to be able to enjoy the races.”

Kentucky Derby winning trainer Graham Motion has stalls at Presque Isle this year when in the past he shipped in to race. Leading trainer Jamie Ness returns to defend his title along with Gerald Bennett, Michael Trombetta, and Tim Hamm. The jockey colony will be competitive with Scott Spieth, Harry Vega, Mario Pino, and Ronnie Allen Jr. accepting mounts, Deshawn Parker, who led the nation in wins last year when based at Mountaineer Park will be at Presque Isle on a full-time basis this year. he will also continue to ride at Mountaineer.

Its Me Mom will make her 2011 debut in the $100,000 Inaugural, the sixth race on the card. A field of 10 3-year-old fillies have been entered in the six-furlong event.

Its Me Mom won 3 of 5 attempts locally last season at 2, including the Presque Isle Downs Debutante. Trained by Lynn Scace, Its Me Mom has been off since Jan. 5 when she finished fourth in the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park. Regular rider Willie Martinez retains the mount.

Our Lady in Red comes into the Inaugural looking for her third consecutive victory after a maiden win at Hawthorne April 8 and a victory in the Pretty Jenny for statebred fillies at Hawthorne on April 23.